BIODIVERSITY IN COZUMEL
The Island of Cozumel offers some of the most diverse marine life in the world. Cozumel is part of the second largest barrier reef system in the world, the Meso-American reef system, which spans almost 175 miles (280 km) of ocean between the Gulf of Mexico and Honduras. Cozumel's spectacular reef formations, effortless drift diving and exceptionally clear waters make this island one of the world's most popular diving destinations.
There are a variety of marine life, over 200 with some only found in the waters around Cozumel, including the Toad fish. You will also see plentiful amounts of Queen Angelfish, Moray Eels, Sea Turtles, plenty of vast coral heads and more. It is quite normal to see vast coral heads, sponges, like the Elephant Ear sponge and the Barrel sponge, as well as hundreds of tropical fish, rich ecosystems and steep walls that sink into the abyss due to continuos currents which flow around the island. Tunnels and caves twist through the reef, providing a rich environment for many species.
Land Mammals & Other Indigenous Species
Surface intervals can be spent looking for indigenous species on the island. Cozumel has a number of endemic species, like the dwarf raccoon(procyon pygmaeus) and the Cozumel wren(nasua nelsoni). The reefs also attract a large amount of migratory birds who feed on the reef. Spotting a brown pelican or olivaceous cormorant can be a treat and are very common on the island.
Reptiles are also indigenous to Cozumel, including the iguana, which is actually a prehistoric reptile and the crocodile. You will also hear and see many other amphibians, including brightly colored tree frogs which use their camoflauge to ward off predators.
Tallies based on entries in Howell and Webb (1995) and Howell (1999).
Total number of bird species recorded (including Gaumer records): 240
Total number of bird species recorded (excluding Gaumer records): 208
In the early 1800s, George F. Gaumer was an ornithological collector based in the Yucatán. His collection, much of which new resides at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, includes 32 species reported from Cozumel. However, Gaumer is known to have made many errors in labeling this specimens, so many of his localities are now considered to be incorrect. See Parkes (1970).
Total number of breeding bird species recorded: 65
Cozumel Thrasher Links
Cozumel Thrasher, BirdLife International fact sheet
IUCN Red List: Cozumel Thrasher (Toxostoma guttatum)
BirdLife International Endemic Bird Areas fact sheet for Cozumel Island
CONABIO Important Bird Areas fact sheet for Isla Cozumel
Important Bird Areas, Mexico: overview
Alliance for Zero Extinction: Cozumel summary
Conservation International: Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot
Threatened species list (pdf file)
Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatán
Links about other Cozumel organisms
Endangered Species Update: Cozumel Island coati (Nasua nelsoni)
IUCN Red List: Cozumel Island coati (Nasua nelsoni)
IUCN Red List: Cozumel raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus)
IUCN Red List: Cozumel harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys spectabilis)
Cozumel has a number of endemic species and subspecies of bird including:
the Cozumel Thrasher, which is nearly, if not already, extinct.
the Cozumel Vireo.
the Cozumel Wren.
the Cozumel Great Curassow, which is highly endangered.
the Cozumel Emerald
Endemic dwarf mammals are found on the island:
the Cozumel Island Raccoon, which is endangered.
the Dwarf Coati, which is endangered.
the Cozumel Fox, which is nearly, if not already, extinct.
Endemic marine life:
the Splendid toadfish